It has been only a few short months since the final Moto3 race of 2017, but everything is reset and reloaded and raring to race once more. This is 2018, and it’s new year – new Champion.
For all intents and purposes, the throne is vacant in Moto3 ™. As is oft or always the case, the old King has moved on to pastures new in Moto2™ and the new field of hopefuls are certain to provide us with a new name on the trophy. So ahead of the first 25 points towards that goal being dished out, what are we expecting this season?
One of the key men tipped for glory is Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3). The Spaniard set a stunning nine pole positions in 2017 – half the year – and finally took his maiden win in Valencia. He arrives as the latest victor, and he’ll want to leave Qatar as the same. On the podium last year, he’ll be tough to beat but his teammate will be one hoping to do that – with Fabio Di Giannantonio also taking a solid result last year at Losail as he came home in P8.
The man who won was Joan Mir, now an intermediate class rookie. In his place at Leopard Racing is another name expected to be a title contender – Enea Bastianini. With wins and podiums already and a good amount of experience, the ‘Beast’ will be pushing to make it his year. Hot on his heels in the final preseason test, however, was former teammate Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) – a man who, like Martin, also showed top form at Qatar last year as he took P4. Race by race and points on the board is Canet’s approach – but will that change once the lights go out?
The Spaniard is now the veteran at Estrella Galicia 0,0 this season. Alongside him is Alonso Lopez, who left Jerez as fastest rookie and will be gunning for the title of Rookie of the Year come Valencia. But there are some interesting newcomers on the list – including former FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 ™ Junior World Championship contender Makar Yurchenko of Kazakhstan (CIP – Green Power). And reigning Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) will have his sights set on the same prize, as will Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), and the man they’ll be looking to to beat is reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46).
The rookies have a point to prove, but so does a deep field of veterans including Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Phillip Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing), Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing), John McPhee (CIP – Green Power), Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team)…and the sophomore likes of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Marco Bezzechi (Pruestel GP). Soon the first wheels will turn in anger and it will be Moto3™ who rev 2018 into action, with FP1 at 12:50 (GMT +3) on Friday.
Then, come 16:00 local on Sunday, it’s straight into the eye of the slipstream storm down Qatar’s more-than-kilometer long main straight – and the first 25 points of the season will be given out.